MASON CITY — The Bash is back.

The 13th Annual Up in Smoke BBQ Bash kicks off at 5 p.m. Friday when the beer garden and food court open. The SPAM Cook-off and tasting begin at 6 p.m. Friday. A rock concert by Bash favorite Standing Hampton runs from 7 to 11 p.m.

The first competitive team rolled in Wednesday night and, by Thursday about 10 of the 49 registered teams had arrived.

Competitors say the earlier a team gets in, the sooner members can unload their stuff, sit back, relax and hang out with friends.

Unless they’re acting as vendors that sell tasty barbecue to ravenous crowds, teams often have some down time once they finish their prep work for Saturday’s Kansas City Barbecue Society-sanctioned competition.

“Tonight I’ll come back, unpack stuff, get it set up and then hang around with these guys for a while, because that’s part of it,” Kris Paulson of Swine Assassins, gesturing to the team next door, said Thursday.

Many of the approximately 40 teams have made friends with competitors, or locals, and developed a routine.

Darren and Sherry Warth, of Iowa’s Smokey D’s BBQ, always join friends at Northwestern Steakhouse for dinner. The next day, they hit LD’s Filling Station for breakfast.

“It’s great,” said Darren Warth, of Des Moines, of the barbecue event. “It’s one of our favorites of the year.

Repeat competitor Mark Scheel, of Hudson, and his wife, Barb, will spend the next few nights staying in Clear Lake with friends.

“It turns into a friend reunion thing with people that we actually met through barbecue,” Scheel said. “He doesn’t compete, but we sure like to have fun together.”

Aspiring pit masters are encouraged to walk through East Park and visit with teams Friday night.

“They’re friendly,” said Bash coordinator and Globe Gazette Marketing Director Ruth Miller. “They’ll share barebecue secrets.”

For Warth, it’s a fun balance between socializing and enjoying great food.

“Tonight will be social hour, tomorrow night will be social hour and then Saturday morning I get up about 5 o’clock in the morning, start the pit and off we go,” he said.

Outbrain